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The Paradox of Creative Constraints


7/09/19 10am

£5.00 – £6.50

This public symposium will reflect on the paradox of creative constraints in contemporary cinema from the Middle East – a day of film screenings and panel discussions with filmmakers, funders and programmers, features innovative rising talents as well as established experts.

Freedom of expression is often understood solely through the lens of state censorship. This event, however, starts from the premise that social, economic and other constraints shape any film from the outset, rather than only coming at the end of the process in the form of intervention by the state or other parties. It seeks to explore the different kinds of limitations on freedom of cinematic expression, from funding through to problems on set, lack of local distribution and travel restrictions, as well as the complex negotiation between constraints and political and creative impulses behind the films. It will deal with questions such as what types of constraints do filmmakers face when they make and distribute films in the region? To what extent are these constraints either productive or harmful? How do the creative strategies used by filmmakers evolve in response to the constraints?

The event will offer new insights into filmmaking from the region, revitalising debates on cinematic creativity in sites of conflict and crisis in the Middle East and beyond. The day is a partnership event with the University of Essex and Index on Censorship. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.


Full schedule available here.


Confirmed speakers include:

Mounia Akl, Film Director, Submarine (Lebanon, US, 2016)

Naziha Arebi, Film Director, Freedom Fields (UK, Libya, 2018)

Shirin Barghnavard, Film Director, Profession: Documentarist (Iran, 2014)

Fay Breeman, Manager, Hubert Bals Fund of the International Film Festival Rotterdam

Tamer El Said, Film Director and Co-Founder, Cimatheque, Cairo

Julia Farrington, Associate Arts Producer, Index on Censorship

Yael Friedman, Documentary Filmmaker and film scholar

Malu Halasa, Writer and Editor

Ali Jaberansari, Film Director, Tehran: City of Love (Iran, UK, Netherlands, 2018)

Basil Khalil, Film Director, Ave Maria (Palestine, France, Germany, 2015)

Rima Mismar, Executive Director, Arab Fund for Arts and Culture

Persheng Sadegh-Vaziri, Documentary Filmmaker and Film Scholar

Naghmeh Samini, Screenwriter

Elhum Shakerifar, BAFTA-nominated film producer, MENA programme advisor for the BFI London Film Festival and Film Curator for Shubbak, festival of contemporary Arab culture.


Film screenings include:

Submarine (Mounia Akl | Lebanon, US, 2016 | 21 mins)

Ave Maria (Basil Khalil | Palestine, France, Germany, 2015 | 15 mins)

Profession: Documentarist (Shirin Barghnavard, Firouzeh Khosrovani, Farahnaz Sharifi, Mina Keshavarz, Sepideh Abtahi, Sahar Salahshoor, Nahid Rezaei | Iran, 2014 | 80 mins)


Featured image: Tehran: City of Love © Here and There Productions


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